We observed Otis Redding’s birthday a few months back. Redding died in a mysterious plane crash at age 26 on this day in 1967. He is one of the truly great soul singers of all time and I would like to take the occasion to recall him today as well. Redding was of course responsible for Aretha Franklin’s breakthrough song “Respect,” a song she recorded in 1967 at her Atlantic recording session in New York after she returned from her initial Atlantic session in Muscle Shoals. “Respect” was the song that broke Aretha nationally overnight.
According to Peter Guralnick in Sweet Soul Music, Redding presciently told Atlantic executive Jerry Wexler upon hearing Aretha’s version of “Respect” for the first time: “I just lost my song. That girl took it away from me.” Onstage at the Monterey International Pop Festival later that year, he repeated: “The girl took that song away from me.” If you heard the song in the spring of 1967, you remember: She took the song away from him.
Yet Redding was an incredible singer and performer in his own right. Redding’s performance onstage at Monterey in 1967 before “the love crowd,” as he called it, backed by Booker T. and the MG’s, is a quintessential moment of pop music history. It was gloriously captured on film by D.A. Pennebaker in “Monterey Pop.”
“I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” is a song Redding wrote with Jerry Butler on tour in a Buffalo hotel room. (Butler turned 67 yesterday — happy birthday to the Ice Man.) In the clip from “Monterey Pop” above, Redding sings “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” after a quick run-through of Sam Cooke’s “Shake” in a performance that is outrageously beautiful.
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